3 lessons that really stuck in 2017 

Happy New Year! 

I've seen a lot of 2017 round up posts from bloggers. I've seen a lot of intentions and goal setting for 2018.

I also saw a lot of people turning their backs on making New Years Resolutions because they don't work.

Too big, too ambitious, setting too many to see what's really important, and then they're all over within a matter of weeks in January when life gets in the way, making you feel like a failure. 

Which got me thinking... 

What DOES work? What things did I learn in 2017 that actually stuck? I've pinned on Pinterest and liked a lot of great quotes on social media but what ones actually rattle around in my brain? Which of those 'yes LOVE that' motivators stay at the front of my consciousness when I'm living my every day life? 

For all the negativity about New Years Resolutions (goals, intentions... whatever you want to call them!) I think I have taken some lessons from 2017 that will stick. 

So if you're worried about setting goals that are going to stay with you throughout 2018, here are my best lessons from 2017 that have become part of my consciousness this year. 

 A big  mango and kale salad  - the epitome of eating a range of foods! 

A big mango and kale salad - the epitome of eating a range of foods! 

1. Eat a range of foods 

No restrictive diets. No cutting out of whole food groups. But actively seeking in every meal to eat the widest range of ingredients possible.

  • What extra portion of veg can I include in my dish?
  • What seeds do I have that I can sprinkle on top?
  • What fruit do I have in the freezer I can add to my smoothie? 
  • What can I snack on that's going to add variety to my intake today? 

This has been a great lesson that I am taking with me into 2018. Rather than denying myself or seeing any ingredient as 'bad' or 'banned', eating a range of foods is a much more positive spin on what you choose to nourish yourself with. There's so much we don't know yet about food and all its nutritional benefits so the best thing we can do is eat an abundance. 

This lesson came from a variety of sources, particularly following my rejection of a yeast free diet back in March. The amount too of qualified nutritionists and dietitians advocating no restriction has been like a constant drip drip drip effect across my social media feeds and I think has left a positive mark. 

This new habit was helped along by studying a Future Learn course called Food As Medicine run by Monash University. I was really struck by the consistent message throughout the course which you can read more about in my write up

The clean eating backlash and reading Anthony Warner’s Angry Chef book also helped solidify this mantra in my mind (it's a book I'm planning to review for the blog if you're keen to know more!).

Rather than subscribing to a celebrity diet which restricts foods in some way, having a little of everything is now the order of the day. 

 

Don't take things personally Four Agreements

2. Don’t take things personally 

I met Mind Coach and Psychotherapist Nuno Pires earlier this year and we had a fascinating conversation about mindset and it’s place in making changes in your life.

Nuno recommended the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and once I started talking to people about it I was surprised how many had already read it (why did no-one share it with me earlier?!). 

Agreement No.2 in the book is 'Don't take anything personally' and it's something that has really stuck with me.

Of course it's not always easy. But remembering that another person's actions or reactions to you are more to do with them than you, is seriously powerful.

It's not that you are bad / stupid / mistaken in your dealings with them - the way people respond to you is telling of their own life, experiences and interactions, not a reflection of yours. 

The other agreements from the book have also really stayed with me (although I did read it in December so I'm curious to see which are still there in 6 months time!) but this was my favourite and the one that's really made the most positive impact on me. 

 

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3. Think about what you're consuming 

I think 2017 might be the year I changed my relationship with food. And that is a big statement.

Okay.... maybe 'changed' is too strong. Maybe I'd say 'shifted.' I just feel like I might have the pieces in place to start having a healthier relationship with food, rather than a constant negative cycle I have lived much of my life with - eating to please others, out of habit, while I'm doing other things, in increasingly mindless ways.  

Slowly but surely the lessons I have learned across this year are starting to stay in place and stick with me when I'm confronted with a meal choice or my own behaviour when I'm eating. 

A big part of this has come from listening to a podcast from Precision Nutrition (their series was one of my Top 10 I picked out in my selection last year). It was called 'Why 'listen to your body' and 'do what works for you' rarely work and what to do instead.'

The relatable, practical tips the podcast offered to apply to your eating habits were seemingly obvious but incredibly helpful. The one tip I came away with to try was timing how long it takes to eat my meals.

(Incidentally, the advice from the podcast was not to try everything in one go: just like having too many New Year's Resolutions - a pointless exercise as you'll soon forget or give up when it's too much effort.)

 Eating whilst checking emails... my downfall

Eating whilst checking emails... my downfall

Timing how long it takes to eat your meals is really easy to do - when I'm sat at home about to start a meal I pop on the stop-watch on my phone and start chomping. It doesn't matter if I miss a meal or if I can't do it when I'm out, it's just for reference. 

Keeping a record of how often I inhale food while I'm browsing social media or reading emails really struck me. And it made me really question how I eat:

  • Am I really savouring what I'm eating? 
  • I eat a lot while I'm cooking or stood in the kitchen - can I cut this down? 
  • If I'm doing something else while I eat, is it necessary?
  • Why can't I give my meal my full attention? 
  • Can I pause a bit more often between mouthfuls? 

Gradually you build up a little database of times for each meal and the idea is that the next day you sit down to eat this is the time you want to match or even extend. Eating a bit more slowly every time also helps with listening to your body when it's full, something I struggle with and sometimes try to ignore by eating fast. Something else to think about... 

I believe the other reason I've really started thinking about what and how I eat is meditation and mindfulness which in 2017 I've incorporated into a more daily habit.

Trying to be present and aware when I'm eating rather than horsing food into me without thinking has been another reason I've really taken stock of what I'm doing. 

My eating hasn't changed dramatically. But like any habit, realisation of what I am doing and just taking that time to pause and question myself is setting me up for altering inbuilt behaviour long-term.  

 

How about you? What new habits did you manage to build into your life in 2017 that you are carrying with you in 2018? Do any of these resonate?